WHAT must be the most rear seat user friendly small people carrier or MPV in this market sector has just been given a refresh making it even more attractive especially to family owners with young children and mature passengers writes Bryan Longworth.
For entering and leaving the rear passenger area of most cars even those with two conventional doors at the back is never as easy as getting into the front seats with one exception - Vauxhall’s natty Meriva which has rear hinged rear doors unlike most cars where the hinges are at the front of the back doors.
But Vauxhall has history with rear hinged rear doors for some of their pre-war cars had this type of rear door because they make the back seats much more accessible although apart from Rolls Royce no other manufacturer now uses them.
Most front hinged rear doors open to no more than 68 degrees making rear access and egress difficult for elderly and younger passengers but the rear hinged Meriva back doors open up to 84 degrees or 20 per cent more making it far easier to get in and out of the car.
Now the popular Meriva has been given a facelift which includes a new grille and newly designed headlamps LED daytime running lights a new colour option a new very quiet diesel engine and an improved infotainment system plus other improvements.
Prices for the latest Meriva start at £12,620 and my test car the Meriva SE 1.4i 16v VVT Turbo was near the top of the range costing £20,000 but had options costing over £4000 including sat nav at £1,200 and leather pack at £1050 plus 18 inch alloy wheels with ultra low profile tyres priced at £615.
The car was powered by a 1.6-litre 140PS turbo petrol engine with a six speed manual gearbox which provided a top speed of 122mph a zero to 62mph time of 10.1 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 44.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km.
As well as those clever rear doors the versatile rear seats known as Flex Seats which can be changed from a three seat combination to two seats for more space if ony two passengers are in the rear have also been improved.
And for owners who really enjoy their driving I found that tweaks to the steering ride and handling provided a really satisfying and enjoyable driving experience that helped to make this car a formidable competitor to the likes of the Nissan Note, Ford B-Max and Citroen C3 Picasso which Vauxhall rate as their main Meriva rivals.
The seal of approval to those clever rear doors was provided by two mature and well built passengers who commented that the rear seats were by far the easiest to access on any car they had travelled in and they could not understand why more manufacturers do not use rear hinged back doors which is something I also find rather puzzling.
Vauxhall state that an emergency tyre inflation kit is included in lieu of a spare wheel but I am sure many owners would prefer a spare wheel which they can buy for just over £100 and in my view this would be money well spent knowing from personal experience how dodgy and unreliable puncture repair kits can be.
So the latest refreshed Meriva is even better value than ever and for family owners in particular with their kids and parents in mind as back seat passengers those innovative rear doors make this particular car a no brainer purchase!
Model: Vauxhall Meriva SE.
Engine: 1.4-litre petrol turbo.
Output: 140PS @ 4900rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 122mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.1 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 44.8mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 149g/km.
Price: £20,000 on the road.